As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Help! This amateur video needs criticism.

We shot our first four Daily Grommet videos this week.  Can you spell no-sleep-the-night before?  Joanne turned to me during the taping with a look that said, “How in the world did I let you talk me into this?”  In the end it was almost fun–for both of us.  But  we need feedback ASAP, since we are shooting the next five videos on October 2–and we might re-do our first batch if people hate them.  Ignore the graphics…this is just a rough cut…not at all done.  Do please tell us about content, pace, delivery.   This is one of four, about a baby product.  We did chocolate, mascara, and tea too….

10 Responses to “Help! This amateur video needs criticism.”

  1. claudia

    I like it overall, but think it should be a little shorter and to the point (sorry for the fast food mentality). I think Jules should smile a little more and sound a little less skeptical (you want me to want it, right). I liked the humor at the end Jim. Great start, and I can’t wait to see the videos on chocolate and tea.

  2. Rachel

    Great job! I really enjoyed it and think you both spoke very clearly and were very engaging.

    I didn’t have the context though of who you two are and whether you are product experts or just being paid to talk about this product. Also, it just seemed to be the opinion of the two of you and not tested by the target audience. Do other moms (other than the company owner) recommend this product?

    Overall though I think moms/shoppers will LOVE these daily updates!

  3. julespieri

    Thanks Rachel and Claudia. Yeah–hard to have no context. We are not paid. We are product experts and this video will mostly be seen in the context of our site. On a page which has lots of other info (and user comments) about the product, or the company it comes from.

  4. Drew

    I think on the whole this grommet video works really well. The production achieves a Goldilocks feel–not too amateurish, not too professional. Although, I’d add there were several moments of latency when it played on my PC–which I found distracting and even a bit annoying (might just be my CPU). I thought all three actors (3J’s) were genuine and believable–positive, but not so much so that I questioned their genuineness. For example, I too wondered whether the blanket was soft enough to be wrapped around MY baby–so I think Jules’ skepticism enhances her credibility. Joanne effectively/casually weaved in a wide range of the product’s features. The tagline, logo and artwork are spot-on. I also liked Joanne’s “ding, ding” at the beginning–wonder if there is something here that can generate familiarity and comfort in that opening moment.

  5. James

    Hi Jules!
    Great for a first try!

    All I can say is, Look at the first year of This Old House, and then look at recently taped shows. (Though your video is a lot better then the first year of T.O.H.) You’ll see the difference. The more recent tapings everyone is relaxed infront of the camera. It’s like they are having a conversation with the camera, instead of talking at it.

    I like the cape bit at the end too. ^_^

  6. julespieri

    Thanks Drew and James. That talking with the camera thing is tough…I was watching the folks at HubSpot do their Friday 4PM live broadcast and pretty impressed with how, only a few weeks into it, they manage to do that naturally. We’ll get better at it every week, but will always welcome helpful tips. We have a lot to learn and plenty of room for improvement. I think I’ll summarize the feedback soon in a post…got a lot of emails too.

    I remembered something funny today…a venture capitalist told someone he was worried I would not be “hands on” enough as a CEO. As I assemble video set sculptures, and write website copy, and make package mockups and a sign for our door, and scrutinize widget pixels, while scrambling to learn how to do video…that cracks me up. I think that man lacks a critical perception gene.

    Drew–I don’t know where that ding ding came from…maybe Joanne said it?

  7. Joy

    Hello Ladies —

    Obviously, I am too close to the content — I will give you some product pointers in a separate email — but — you guys did a great job. I know the flow will improve as you do more of these things. The tone — slightly skeptical — is very convincing — and Jim’s ending is priceless.

    It was fun for me to see you after so long — you both look great — Joy

  8. paddy hayes


    For me the issue is not so much one of familiarity with the medium (you’re pretty good you two and you’ll get better) as that you are pitching yourself (based on this one view) against a slew of mainstream television programmes which attempt to do something rather similar. So I need to see an angle that separates your tuppence worth from say a regular tv presenter’s tuppence worth and I’m not certain I’ve seen that yet. The quality of the camerawork, the two presenters, the joke at the end were all great, no issue at all there. A clearer point-of-diiference other than the tube on which we watch would help do it for me.

    That said, break-a-leg, el show is on the road.
    ps course if the first gizmo on show had been a toy-for-boy gee whiz maybe my take would have been different.

  9. Alan

    Overall, good content. I noticed that the video cuts in one place. This cut should have a much smoother transition. It may be in your best interest to bring on a pro editor. I also noticed that the sound is echo-y. Perhaps deaden the walls within your studio, and use clip mikes. Practice makes perfect! Good luck!

  10. julespieri

    Thanks for all the feedback…also had many emails, Tweets, and FB messages with helpful suggestions. This is what we know for sure: make it shorter, lighten up and warm up the mood, look more at the camera, don’t say Um, demonstrate the products a little better, be more direct in telling the product stories and reasons we are picking this product out of all the choices in the world.

    Most people liked the skepticism, some less so. Most liked the humor at the end, some thought it was throw-away. One person thought we were going to get boring after awhile. (Don’t worry, there will be other people on camera with us, to allay you of that fear.) Some people want kids in the videos. (What is that W.C. Fields saying?) Heard some good technical suggestions.

    In an interesting divide, women were generally grooving on the rapport Joanne and I have (it’s the real deal..we’ve known each other 17 years) and men seemed to take it for granted. “Oh yeah, two women gabbing. What’s new?”

    For ourselves, Joanne and I were glad to get these done in one or two takes (only) and that the camera did not add 20 pounds to each of us. Oh wait….yes it most certainly did. We are actually stick thin models types, if only you met us in person, you would know that. 🙂

    We shoot the next batch in two days and we are actually (almost) looking forward to it. In a month or so I think these shoots will be the highlight of the week.


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